Au Pairs vs. Nannies vs. Day Cares

By Ruth Ferry

Chess GameIf you are in the processes of selecting child care for your children, I recommend you read Ruth Ferry’s article Choosing the Right Child Care for Your Family. Ruth’s article highlights the differences between child care options and helps you find a solution that fits best with your family and budget.  For more on child care options, here is Ruth’s quick overview on Au Pairs vs. Nannies vs. Day cares.

Au Pairs


  • Intercultural and foreign language experience
  • Most affordable option
  • Flexibility and convenience of live-in provider
  • Low caregiver to child ratio
  • Young adult with the energy to engage in age-appropriate active play
  • Can assist with some household duties
  • All au pairs must complete 32 hours of child development and child safety training before being placed in a home


  • Can work a max of 45 hours each week
  • Can work a max of 10 hours per day
  • Need appropriate private room available for housing
  • You can’t get an au pair if you don’t live in a community where there is a sponsor representative
  • Get details of the orientation and training that au pair program sponsors provide-they are not all the same!



  • Low caregiver to child ratio
  • Live-in and live-out option
  • Many have made a career of being a professional child care provider.
  • May have some flexibility of coverage for an ill child or school cancellations
  • Can negotiate extended work hours


  • Most expensive option
  • May not have the energy to engage in age-appropriate active play
  • Need appropriate private room for live-in
  • Bookkeeping-with holding taxes, paying social security and worker’s comp
  • Some nannies demand other benefits

Day care


  • Provides social environment for children
  • Middle of the road cost
  • Focus on academic enrichment
  • More than one adult to watch your child


  • Less individualized attention
  • More exposure to health issues
  • No assistance with household duties
  • Scrambling for care when your child is sick or unscheduled school vacations
  • Some day care providers close for a vacation period

Other Articles

Choosing the Right Child Care for Your Family

Top 25 Cost Savers for Single Moms

Preparing Your Child for Summer Camp


Ruth Ferry is a mother of two grown daughters with over 36years of child care industry experience. She is the responsible officer for the Visitor Exchange Program of the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the U.S. Department of State. She currently serves as senior vice president and director of Au Pair in America, the nation’s largest and oldest provider of au pair child care. For more information on Ruth Ferry, visit her web site here.